STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
There was a standoff on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border on Monday when the Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena activists led by their leaders stormed the border district of Belagavi. The Karnataka police swung into action to deal with the situation and detained NCP and Sena leaders taking them into preventive custody.
The protests were planned for the last winter session of the BS Bommai government in Karnataka being held in Belagavi, the district that has been a focal point of a border dispute for decades. This will be the state’s last winter session before it goes to polls next year.
NCP’s Hasan Mushrif, and Shiv Sena’s Kolhapur district president Vijay Devane, were detained while trying to enter Belagavi while more than 300 members of Shiv Sena, Congress, and NCP were stopped at the border and sent back by Karnataka, and some were detained by the Maharashtra Police.
Activists of Madhyavarti Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MMES), an organisation that has been raising the issue for over five decades, have planned massive protests ahead of the winter session of the Karnataka Assembly.
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole has blamed the dispute on the Centre, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “dividing” India.
He was quoted as saying that the border issue is happening because of the Central government. PM Modi wants to divide Maharashtra.
He asked why leaders are not allowed to go there despite the meeting between chief ministers and Home Minister Amit Shah. This, he said shows that the Central government is behind this issue.
The chief ministers of Karnataka and Maharashtra had agreed not to press their claims in the decades-long state border dispute till the Supreme Court takes a call on the matter, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said last week after a meeting with the two leaders.
However, Maharashtra Chief Minister CM Eknath Shinde said the issue is of “Maharashtra’s pride” and that the state has taken a strong stand on the issue.
“Home Minister himself informed the media about the issue. The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti is protesting today, there should not be any politics on this issue. There are several other issues over which we can do politics,” Nana Patole was quoted as saying. Shinde said he has information from the police about who are the villagers who want to join Karnataka, and “who are behind them”.
“We are with our people and will provide anything required. We even told BS Bommai that whatever you are tweeting isn’t right, he said that that isn’t his Twitter handle,” Eknath Shinde added.
Maharashtra has been nursing grudge against the inclusion of Marathi-speaking areas, including Belgavi, which happed to be part of part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, in Karnataka during the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines. It also laid claim to 814 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka. Karnataka maintains the demarcation is final and there can be no change.